You Were Always Mine by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza is a really powerful, contemporary novel that consumed me from the start.
Once again, the two authors have produced a marvellous novel, after their fabulous debut book We Are Not Like Them.
Where to begin?… I loved so much about this book it is hard to know what to discuss first. This is a book about love, social injustice, racism, prejudice and pre-conceived ideas leading to judgement.
Cinnamon, the leading lady, is very likable. She is a product of the school of hard knocks but is an over-comer. She was brought up in the social care system which failed her on every level. She saw close up just what was wrong with the system. Now an adult, she is determined to change the system from within, determined that no child in her care will ever feel unwanted.
As an African American woman, Cinnamon has been a victim of both open, and convert racism. “ ‘You know, Cinnamon, you’re the first coloured friend I have ever had’, with the proudest look on her face like she’d earned the hardest Girl Scout badge.” The reader’s heart just weeps.
To see a black woman with a white baby, American society assumes she is the nanny. To see a black man with a white baby, American society assumes he is an abductor. But to see a white couple with a black baby, American society applauds. Clearly something seriously needs to change.
Coming through the care system Cinnamon is used to being let down. “She loved the idea of God, but lodged deep within her was the fear that He would be on the long list of people who forsake her.” Cinnamon has a default setting to expect disappointment, even from God. She has tried to lock up her heart. “If you didn’t get attached to people, they couldn’t hurt you.”
To live in isolation is heart-breaking. “You could crave a hug as badly as you crave food.” We need to love and to be loved.
There is a beautiful friendship between Cinnamon and a white teen called Daisy. It is a meeting of hearts as they love, encourage and trust each other. They both have pure hearts in spite of their upbringings – Daisy’s grandfather was a white supremacist but none of his evil permeated Daisy’s soul.
We learn lessons from nature. “Letting go of what doesn’t serve you in order to take on the next long and arduous journey.” Let go of the past hurts and move into a fresh future.
No matter what our conception was or how we were brought up, “a child is always a blessing – no matter what colour he or she is.”
You Were Always Mine really is a story out of the top drawer. It will make you think as we witness just what is wrong with society today. It will make your heart break for the racial and social injustice. And it will swell your heart with love as we follow Cinnamon, who, despite her hard life, is full of love.
This is a book that demands a response from us. We should feel out-raged at the inequality between the sexes, the classes and the races. We cannot read this book and not be moved by all the many issues raised.
I cannot wait for more from the fabulous writing duo of Christine Pride and Jo Piazza.
I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.